Walton Commissioners discuss stop signs, Highway 331 landscaping and pet-friendly restaurants

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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A stop sign on Alaqua Drive in Freeport will not be going in anytime soon.

Tuesday, commissioners decided to retract the decision they made three weeks ago, about placing a stop sign on Alaqua Drive.

Some residents say the signs are a way to control speeding in the area and ensure safety, while others say speeding and traffic are not issues on this road, and that a stop sign is not needed.

"What makes children's and citizen's lives any less valuable today than they were three weeks ago, when you voted," said Tammie Levins, who asked commissioners three weeks ago to put the signs in place.

"Most of the traffic is not ours, it is people basically lost or trying to go to Alaqua Animal Refuge, if we could get a sign on Millie Road, showing them where to go, I think this would eliminate half the problem," said Pat Haney, who says stop signs are not needed on Alaqua Drive.

Commissioners decided to leave up the "children playing" signs and the speed limit signs.

The vote came back 3-2 to have county staff and engineers collect data and see if there was a need for a stop sign on Alaqua Drive, the information will be brought back at a later date.

Walton County Commissioners are looking at ways to spruce up the medians on the Highway 331 bridge once construction is complete.

Commissioners say the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will pay for the landscaping, and install an irrigation system on Highway 331 South of the bridge to Highway 98.

But someone needs to maintain it.

A legislative finding states the Walton County Tourist Development Council (TDC) can, in fact, pay for the maintenance of that landscaping from their budget.

"We support you, the scenic corridor foundation, and getting rid of the rocks and getting more to the more traditional types of plantings you see. And I think you being willing to fund that maintenance through the TDC will allow much more input on the design from the county," said Leigh Moore of the Scenic Corridor Association.

The county is also discussing how they can spend the leftover bridge tax money to go towards landscaping in that area, and what sort of landscaping should be down north of the bay on Highway 331.

Meetings to discuss how the extra money from the bridge tax should be spent will be Wednesday June 1 at the South Walton Annex at 5 p.m. and Monday, June 6 at the Freeport Community Center at 4 p.m.

Restaurant owners in Walton County now have the option to be a pet-friendly dining facility.

Tuesday, commissioners voted on an ordinance that would give restaurant owners with outside dining the option to allow dogs in their facility.

Currently the State of Florida has a statute that allows this, but for it to happen in Walton County, officials had to create their own ordinance.

Other items discussed Tuesday:

Walton County Commissioners will hold special meetings Tuesday, June 21 and Tuesday, July 19 at 5 p.m. at the South Walton Annex to discuss a number of planning projects.

The county has more than 20 projects coming through their planning department and decided to hold a separate meeting to make sure everything is discussed thoroughly.

The county is also looking at new space for the planning department. Right now, the department's main facility is in South Walton, but there is not enough room for their growing staff.

The options for expanding are to either expand their current office space, purchase land a build a whole new building, or lease/buy space in Freeport.

The commissioners voted to buy modular units to place in the south end, and for county staff to see how much building a whole new facility or leasing/buying space in Freeport would cost. That information will be brought back at a later date.